The vernal equinox in 2015 occurs at 10:45pm UTC on March 20th. For that brief moment, Earth’s poles are not tipped toward the sun or away from it, and day and night are roughly equal in length. It’s also the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. Where would you like to be at that moment? Here are some of the best places to enjoy the advent of spring.
Washington, D.C. – United States
There are a few weeks in early April when the city of Washington D.C. looks like it’s been decorated with pink cotton candy. It’s cherry blossom time, and it’s something to see. The trees are located in several places around the city, but concentrated in three areas: West Potomac Park, East Potomac Park and on the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument.
The trees were a gift of friendship from the people of Japan in 1912. They sent 3,020 Yoshino cherry trees to Washington, and the first two trees were planted by First Lady Nellie Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador. These two trees still stand on the northern bank of the tidal basin near the John Paul Jones statue.
The other trees were planted by workmen around the parks of central D.C. and bloom every year in a fantastic explosion of pink and white. The blooms last around two weeks, and usually appear around April 4th. The Cherry Blossom Festival, run by the National Park Service, features ranger-led walks and talks among the trees, and Tidal Basin Paddle Boats. The paddle boats are the best way to see this amazing spectacle and offer picture-perfect views of the Jefferson Memorial. The Tidal Basin paddle boats can be reserved in advance and cost just $15 to $24 per hour.
Wild Atlantic Way – County Donegal and County Cork, Ireland
Along the rugged western coast of Ireland is a 1500-mile coastal route that takes you past a truly unspoiled landscape of rolling hills, horse pastures, dramatic cliffs and ocean vistas. From Donegal in the north to Cork in the south, the recently completed Wild Atlantic Way is one of the world’s most scenic drives and an experience not to be missed.
The time to go is in the spring when everything is green – and bluebells and daffodils are in bloom. Best advice: take your time. There are cliff top views, great hikes, coastal villages to explore and historic sites dating back to the Middle Ages. Stop along the way to watch the sun set over the Atlantic. To do the entire route justice will probably take more time than you have, but two weeks will give you time to explore, relax and hit the highlights.
Be careful! For American visitors, remember that you must drive on the left side of the road. Also, most road signs are bi-lingual but some are in Irish only in rural areas. For more information, including recommended itineraries, visit the Ireland.com website.
In Bali you can experience a day in March when everything stands still. The Bali Day of Silence (Nyepi Day) is a celebration of the Saka New Year when all inhabitants refrain from playing music, talking loudly, driving their cars and doing much of anything. The islanders believe that for 24 hours, you should do nothing to attract the attention of the spirits. The day brings air traffic, road traffic and most activities to a halt.
Aside from Nyepi Day, spring is the best time to go to the tropical wonder that is Bali. The Indonesian island is very close to the equator and has a rainy and a dry season. The rains let up around the end of March, so April and May are the best time to visit. You’ll find 85-degree sunny days with a balmy breeze, perfect for spending a day on the beach. But there are far better things to do.
Bali has been named the World’s Best Island by both Travel & Leisure Magazine and Lonely Planet. The landscape consists of tall volcanoes, rice field terraces, lush jungle and sandy beaches. The people are friendly, devout and happy. You’ll be happy, too. In Bali, you can get a world-famous Jari Menari massage and then go on an elephant safari or visit a monkey jungle. After that, enjoy the dramatic dances of the exuberant nightlife and try the distinctively delicious cuisine.
Above all, you should visit the intricately carved Hindu temples that exist on every corner, where peace and serenity will flood your senses. Just remember to keep your silence, especially on Nyepi Day.
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